AMSTERDAM — Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday maintained that her administration hasn’t always been informed when asylum seekers are transported upstate by New York City officials.
Her remarks come as municipal government leaders, including officials in Colonie and Rotterdam, remain frustrated over migrant families being housed locally without notice. To Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti’s surprise, he recently discovered that three motels in the city had rejected similar offers from New York City.
Hochul at a press conference following a ribbon-cutting event in Amsterdam said that the state aims to contact local officials if provided a heads up from New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office.
“Sometimes we know in advance and sometimes we don’t,” Hochul said.
Adams since early May has sent hundreds of asylum seekers across the state due to a lack of resources in his city. The sudden influx followed the expiration of a COVID-19 era policy, which allowed federal agents to reject migrants seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border.
Adams’ office in late July claimed that his administration “months ago” had reached out to local officials across the state about his plans. “Since that time, our team has reached out before migrants are moved to local communities, including to Schenectady.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, has called the statement false.
Santabarbara, who represents portions of Montgomery and Schenectady counties, has sponsored legislation that would require New York City to notify state and local leaders before relocating asylum seekers.
When asked to weigh in on the bill, Hochul opted against taking a position this early.
“Well, they’re not back in session until January, so I always wait and see whether it passes, number one in committee, [number] two, [it] passes both houses and that lands on my desk for signature and I’ll have a chance to review with them,” said Hochul.
“But in the meantime, short of any change like that or consideration of a change like that, I’m going to be using all the information that we get in real time and making sure that local governments know as well,” the governor continued. “It’s important to have advance notice.”
Santabarbara previously reached out to Hochul’s office. The moderate Democrat, who attended the Tuesday event alongside Hochul, hasn’t heard back yet, he said.
“I didn’t hear from the mayor of New York City, either,” Santabarbara said. “It’s silence from them — the mayor’s office, which is irresponsible.”
The 111th Assembly District representative has previously called for an investigation into New York City’s practices. He said that the state Attorney General’s office is currently undergoing a fact-finding process.
Questions still remain over the displacement of residents staying at the Super 8 in Rotterdam. People living at the motel were not allowed to stay to make way for the asylum seekers; at least 238 asylum seekers currently stay at the Carmen Road motel. The site has been known to house vulnerable individuals, including homeless people and domestic violence victims.
Rotterdam Town Supervisor Mollie Collins has attempted to make contact with Adams’ office to no avail. She said that DocGo, a mobile medical provider contracted with New York City to help with the relocation of migrants, hasn’t answered any questions, including lingering concerns over how officials at Mohonasen Central School District will handle the sudden influx of children.
About 68 children are believed to be staying at the Rotterdam Super 8.
“Every municipality should have the right to decide if they have the resources available for these people, who are the asylum seekers,” said Collins. “It’s just not right that the mayor of New York gets to put people wherever they want.”
New York City didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.